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Panasonic TX32LXD700 Picture Quality

by David Mackenzie a.k.a. Lyris
28 August 2007

Standard Definition

Freeview Digital TV

For Digital TV, I surprised myself by actually adding some Edge Enhancement to the picture by notching the Sharpness control up very slightly. True, it won’t do anything to make ropey-looking Digital TV look any more detailed, but sitting back a little, I’d argue that it helps trick you into thinking you’re looking at a better quality source (just be sure you don’t overdo it).The structure of the IPS-Alpha panel didn’t exacerbate MPEG compression artefacts like some other types of panel do, but of course, the quality varies greatly depending on the programme and the channel. There’s not too much more to add, and it’s safe to say that a properly set up Panasonic TX32LXD700 will make Digital TV nearly as watchable as could be expected from an LCD.

This TV doesn’t seem to feature any MPEG Noise Reduction features, which is really no big loss, seeing as current technology really can’t accomplish acceptable removal of compression artefacts at an affordable price point, and other manufacturers’ attempts at including these usually end up being left off anyway.

One thing I particularly appreciated about the integration of the DVB tuner on this TV was the clarity of the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG). Since current generation chipset designs can’t decode MPEG-2 video natively, most TVs currently on the market with an Integrated Digital tuner are better thought of as “TVs with Freeview boxes built in”, rather than a totally natural addition to the TV’s circuitry. On most TVs, this means that the Programme Guide is passed through the video processor as a 576i video signal, then onto the panel, meaning that it ends up looking somewhat blurred and hard to read. Panasonic, however, have worked around the issue, and on the Panasonic TX32LXD700, the EPG is drawn by the same process that draws the pixel-perfect on screen menus. The bottom line of this is that the EPG on this TV is razor sharp and easy to read, which is a very nice touch.

DVD Via A Progressive Scan Player

To test Standard Definition DVDs, I connected my old faithful Panasonic DVD-S97 to the TV via HDMI, and set the player to output on 480p/576p mode. In other words, I made sure that the player was Deinterlacing, but not Upscaling (because the television's own scaling is completely adequate). I used the Region 2 PAL SuperBit DVD of Hannibal as a test disc, largely on the basis of its detailed and largely unfiltered video transfer. Keeping in mind the TV’s other caveats (lack of backlight control and inability to disable 100hz mode), the film looked great. The large minefield of lesser transfers that exist on the DVD format also looked just about as good as possible.

High Definition

HD DVD & Blu-Ray 1080p

Using both an Xbox 360 Elite with HD DVD add-on drive, and a Playstation 3 console, I was able to feed 1080p video “straight from the disc” in to the Panasonic TX32LXD700. Yes, although this isn’t a 1080p TV, the video processing chip can accept 1080p input, before scaling it down to the panel’s 1366x768 resolution. That means that while you’re not getting all of the detail from the disc, there’s as little margin for error as possible.

I was by-and-large very pleased with how these 1080p films looked on this TV. Sure, the panel can’t show every last pixel of detail, but on more modestly sized TVs, many would argue that this isn’t an issue. Fantastic looking HD DVDs, such as Paramount’s Black Snake Moan and Babel, Universal’s Serenity, as well as vintage material such as Warner’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, all looked stunning. (The old theatrical WB Looney Tunes cartoons that are provided as extras on the Robin Hood disc look especially good, provided you’re not disturbed by the added motion smoothing the 100hz/120hz technology adds).

On the slightly more Blu side, transfers such as Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and the compression-artifact-riddled-but-still-mostly-detailed Silent Hill also looked fantastic. I took advantage of the fact that the Playstation 3 can output 24p video straight from the disc, without rate-converting the video to 60hz, and was delighted to see that the TX32LXD700 does indeed accept this type of video. Although I’m not especially troubled by the slight judder that results otherwise, I’m sure that the ability to watch totally judder-free Blu-ray movies will please many. (Hopefully, a solution to output 24p video from HD DVD discs from the Xbox 360 will appear soon, too).

Needless to say, I was very satisfied with how this TV handled High Def video overall.

(Please note: although this TV accepts 1920x1080p via the HDMI connections, the same isn’t possible over the Component input, which is limited to 1080i. This may be a non-issue, as Component video outputs are usually artificially limited to 1080i due to executive paranoia on Hollywood’s part)

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